Willans’ business immigration experts update members on recent news concerning graduate visas and working in the UK.
On 1 July 2021, the UK Graduate Visa Route opened for applications. The visa enables international students who have completed an eligible UK degree to stay in the UK to work (or look for work) after completing their studies.
If you are an employer, it is important to know the basic rights and limitations of this visa, particularly if you are interviewing international graduates. Read on for more information about the eligibility criteria and rights under this visa, along with some specific COVID-19 considerations.
Requirements for eligibility
To be eligible international students must have:
- completed a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree at a Higher Education Provider which is a student sponsor with a track record of compliance; or
- completed a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above, in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public law; or
- been sponsored to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer following the completion of an eligible qualification in their most recent grant of permission to study.
- be in the UK at the date of application; and
- have a valid student or Tier 4 student visa; and
- have spent a minimum period of time studying in the UK
Rights under the visa
Under this visa, international graduates are permitted to:
- stay in the UK for 2 years (for those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree) or 3 years (for those with a doctorate)
- look for work
- once employment has been found, work flexibly
- undertake roles at any skill level with no salary requirement
- switch jobs
Impact of COVID-19
There are concessions in place for international students who have been unable to travel to the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Where distance learning has taken place outside of the UK as a result of COVID-19, the following concessions apply:
- studies which began in autumn 2020 or spring 2021: students can switch into the Graduate Immigration Route if they enter the UK by 27 September 2021;
- studies beginning autumn 2021 or spring 2022: student can switch into the Graduate Immigration Route if they enter the UK by 6 April 2022.